Hi All! I am currently taking classes towards my administration license. As part of a capstone assignment for my course, I was asked to research data and identify an academic area in need go growth within the EL population. I chose Math. My question for you all is why do you think EL students struggle with Math and what do you think can be done to help strengthen these skills? I personally think it has alot to do with the vocabulary that it used in Math word problems but would like to here some input from the pro's! TIA

The grade 7 and 8 team at my school participated in some In-Service around this last year. A couple of the things we focused on were being sure that the vocabulary and syntax in word problems were accessible to the students (there are often far too many words!) and being sure that the students are able to relate to situations presented in the problems. We also did some work around the fact that, in many cultures, there isn't same the emphasis on problem-solving and communication of strategies that we have.

Actually, the trouble in math is more likely to be in delayed proficiency in the subject in the native language. If the students are at grade level, they make the transition fairly well because the diagrams and actions are the same, allowing them many context clues to work with. The problems come from students being placed in grade level classes when they aren't actually capable of doing grade level work. I teach HS science, and if the ELL's are at grade level proficienct, it is surprising what a good native language/English dictionary can solve. If, however, they are a couple of grade levels below what I am teaching, they are lacking so much basic knowledge, and they struggle. If dealing with ELL's in math at lower levels, those word problems are going to be a pesky problem, because they are always written in a manner that also builds literacy, with extraneous information. For ELL's, try to help them find the basics that they will need to use to solve. I would simplify the word problems to the basics, so you can find out if it is the math or the language that they are most struggling with. I agree with MrsC - the way that we are expected to teach math, in concert with teaching literacy at the same time may be unique to our education system. With Common Core, there is a literacy strand written into every subject matter. If the processing is good with the math, modify the word problems and keep only the relevant words until language starts to build.